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Eagle Found., Inc. v. Dole

Citation: 17 ELR 20912
No. No. 86-1861, 813 F.2d 798/(7th Cir., 02/27/1987)

The court holds that the Department of Transportation (DOT) and state officials satisfied § 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act (DOTA) in selecting from among ten alternatives the Napoleon Hollow on the Illinois River as the most cost effective, environmentally least disruptive, and safest site for a bridge to cross the river for a planned east-west highway through central Illinois. The route cuts through Wade Farm, a historic site, and the Pike County Conservation Area, and may disrupt the wildlife habitat of several vulnerable and endangered species. The court, however, refuses to permanently enjoin construction of the federally funded four-lane highway, and holds that DOT Secretary Dole's determination that no feasible and prudent alternative route for the highway or site for the bridge exists is supported by ample evidence. The court holds that consideration of the cumulative impacts of drawbacks to alternative routes is proper in determining whether to use § 4(f)-protected land, including the costs already incurred. The court also holds that the Secretary was entitled to consider effects on farmland under the Farmland Protection Policy Act. The court holds that § 4(f)'s requirement to minimize the harm to protected areas is satisfied by plans to construct the bridge so as to minimize visual clutter and disruption of the animals' travel, and by sinking the highway eight feet underground and providing a tree-lined barrier where it passes through the Wade Farm. The court holds that these plans satisfy the DOTA's requirement for a "prudent" accommodation of the various competing interests.

[Prior opinions in this case appear at 12 ELR 20394, 21151.]

Counsel for Plaintiff-Appellant
Edward S. Boraz
111 West Washington St., Suite 1025, Chicago IL 60602

Counsel for Defendants-Appellees
Russell R. Eggert, Ass't Attorney General
500 S. Second St., Springfield IL 62709
(217) 782-1090

Before COFFEY and EASTERBROOK, Circuit Judges, and GRANT, Senior District Judge.*